I am still out of town so not much blogging today either.
On this day in 1898, the great film writer and director Leo McCarey was born. He is mostly known for his comedies like Duck Soup, The Awful Truth, and My Favorite Wife. He also directed An Affair to Remember, which you may remember was also basically a comedy. Duck Soup is not one of my favorite Marx Brothers films, but I still think it is great.
One of the greatest lyricists of the 20th century, Johnny Burke was born in 1908. He wrote the lyrics of “Pennies from Heaven,” “Moonlight Becomes You,” and “It Could Happen to You.” And he wrote lots more. The time when people concentrated on lyrics really did create better songs. Of course, it doesn’t matter today because songs are not really written anymore; they are produced. That isn’t to say that there aren’t great songwriters around (Jules Shear comes to mind). But few people listen to that kind of music.
The day, however, belongs to the great writer Gore Vidal who was born on this day in 1925. He mostly wrote about the best historical fiction of the 20th century. But I’m not that into that kind of thing. I preferred his essays. I remember reading his essay “Sex Is Politics,” and I don’t think I ever quite got over it. It largely shaped the way I see the world to this day. (Note: he is wrong about a few things in it though.) But I also think I learned from him a sad resignation about the way the world is. I think I have a positive notion of human nature, but we humans are so easily distracted. Squirrel?! The prognosis ain’t good.
Happy birthday Gore Vidal!